COVID-19 vaccine guidelines was numerous in quantity but many lack transparent reporting of methodological practices
In December 2021, Zijun Wang et al. from the Evidence-based Medicine Center, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Lanzhou University, published an article in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology entitled "COVID-19 vaccine guidelines was numerous in quantity but many lack transparent reporting of methodological practices". The aim of the article was to describe the current status of COVID-19 vaccine guidelines published between January 1, 2020 and July 8, 2021, and to identify the problems with the guidelines in this area and to provide suggestions for future guideline development.
This study conducted a systematic and comprehensive search of seven databases, Google and the official websites of other guideline platforms (including the World Health Organization, the Guideline International Network, etc.), resulting in the inclusion of 106 guidelines for analysis (92 of which were published in English). The results showed that in the first half of 2021, an average of 15 guidelines were published per month. In terms of Country/region, the top 3 of them were Canada (22, 20.8%), internationality (18, 17.0%) and the United States (13, 12.3%). In terms of development institutions, more than half of the guidelines (54, 50.9%) were led by societies/associations. In terms of target population, 50 (47.2%) guidelines focused on individuals with specific medical conditions and 18 (17.0%) on individuals who experienced adverse reactions. In terms of methodology, only 28 (26.4%) guidelines reported the methodologies used, and 4 (3.8%) used the quality of the evidence and the strength of the recommendations. In addition, 42 (39.6%) reported on the source of funding for the development process and 65 (61.3%) reported on conflicts of interest in the development process.
This study is the first systematic analysis of COVID-19 vaccine guidelines and shows that a high number of guidelines have been published in the recent months, but most of them lack clear and transparent reporting of methodology, funding, and conflicts of interest.The authors suggested that guideline developers should strictly follow the guideline handbook especially in disclosing conflict of interests, while also noting that there is a lack of guidelines for COVID-19 vaccine from low- and middle-income countries and a lack of recommendations for these countries. In the future, policymakers and funders should further increase their support for researchers to provide higher quality clinical evidence for development of future guidelines and updates.
Reference: Wang Z, Liu H, Li Y, et al. COVID-19 vaccine guidelines was numerous in quantity but many lack transparent reporting of methodological practices. J Clin Epidemiol. 2021;144:163-172. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2021.12.015.